By Debbie Gregory.
On October 8, 2013, after finding out that the families of five recently deceased military personnel would be denied their death benefits during the government shutdown, Fisher House Foundation agreed to offer the families an advance on their military death benefits. The foundation will forward each family their $100,000 death benefit, and also cover air fare, hotels and other costs so that the families can travel to attend the Ramp Ceremonies of their fallen loved ones.
The Defense Department identified the fallen as: 1st Lt. Jennifer M. Moreno, 25, of San Diego, CA, assigned to Madigan Army Medical Center, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA; Sgt. Patrick C. Hawkins, 25, of Carlisle, PA, assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Fort Benning, GA.; Sgt. Joseph M. Peters, 24, of Springfield, MO., assigned to the 5th Military Police Battalion, Vicenza, Italy; PFC Cody J. Patterson, 24, of Philomath, OR, assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, at Fort Benning, GA; and Marine Lance Cpl. Jeremiah M. Collins, of Milwaukee, WI assigned to Combat Logistics Regiment 2, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, II Marine Expeditionary Force, based in Camp Lejeune, NC.
After reports that the Department of Defense would not be able to pay death gratuities to families of service members killed in combat due to the government shutdown, Fisher House Foundation generously agreed to offer the families an advance until the government can make reimbursements at an appropriate time.
Additionally, Fisher House announced, through their newsletter, that they are sending a gift of $25,000 – beyond the benefits due – to each of the 20+ families affected by the delay. They are doing so in the hopes that this gift will ease the burdens these families are now experiencing. They will also continue to fly families to Dover Air Force Base to witness the Dignified Transfer of Remains (DTR), the ceremony in which their loved one is brought home to the United States. Once there, many of these families will stay at the Dover Fisher House for the Families of the Fallen while they wait for that solemn ceremony.
Fisher House Foundation provides homes at bases and Veterans Affairs facilities around the United States and in Germany. The organization also helped to create a child development center at Camp Pendleton, and operates the Hero Miles Program. This program uses donated frequent flyer miles to allow family members of injured service members to come see their loved one, and works in conjunction with the Hotels for Heroes program, utilizing donated hotel points to allow family members to stay at hotels near medical centers at no charge.
Military Connection would like to applaud the Fisher House Foundation for assisting these grieving families in their time of need. The military community is in awe of your generosity and humanity.